Jefferson County Youth Football League kicks off new season
RANSON — Jefferson County Youth Football changed tradition last Saturday when they held their opening day ceremonies in the middle of the afternoon. Players, coaches, officials, cheerleaders and parents gathered at Marcus Field in Ranson for a 3 p.m. start to the 2018 season.
“We have some changes this year, so we thought we would try the afternoon opening ceremony just before game time,” said Judy Brown, JCYFL secretary and treasurer.
“There is a decline in the number of kids playing football,” said David Brown, JCYFL president. This year saw 120 sign up for football with an additional 60 sign on for cheer. While these numbers are consistent with the 2017 season, they are down from traditionally higher enrollment in the past.
David said he could not say for certain why fewer kids are playing football. It may be because they have other interests or there may be a concern over safety.
“All of our coaches are certified,” David said. “We take safety very seriously. We can’t guarantee complete safety but we will do our best.”
To help revive an interest in and love for the game, as well as to develop continuity in coaching methods, officials involved with youth of all ages in Jefferson County got together earlier this year and decided to work together to strengthen the football program, from pee-wee to high school.
Beginning at the youth league level, players will now be placed on teams with the goal of building a strong Jefferson County football program. Players from Harpers Ferry Middle School and Charles Town Middle School will be channeled toward Washington High School, while those affiliated with Shepherdstown Middle School and Wildwood Middle School will be channeled toward Jefferson High. While those placements might fluctuate, the idea is central to building a continuation of teaching from the youngest level to the highest.
Incorporating that district model, the new season saw the six teams in the league this year — two pee-wee, two freshmen and two junior varsity — wear the colors and carry the names of Cougars and Patriots.
During the opening ceremonies, Brown spoke with pride about Marcus Field and all the volunteers associated with the league who make things happen.
“We are all volunteers here. No one takes home a paycheck,” Brown said, before requesting all field visitors to pitch in to keep the area clean.
Thanks to many donations, the enrollment fees for the JCYFL have been kept lower than many leagues’ fees. The fees cover equipment, insurance, uniforms, rental of practice spaces around the county and all other financial costs of the league. Pierson said gate admissions and concession proceeds also help keep the league self-sufficient.
Games began immediately following the opening ceremonies.